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LEAVING NO STONE UNTURNED – BACKGROUND AND COMMENTARY (PART I)

June 30, 2014

LEAVING NO STONE UNTURNED – BACKGROUND AND COMMENTARY (PART I)
My followers are well acquainted with my long held position that a corporate takeover of America is more dangerous to our survival as a democratic nation state than Iran, climate change, communism etc. I am of the view that a corporate version of a 1984 world where democracy is dead and the tyranny of profit over all else is not a country in any event; it is a corporation in and of itself which, in time, will witness humanity, altruism and our religious impulses join democracy in the artifact file in corporate archives unless – unless what? Unless we the people can somehow reverse this corporate takeover tsunami currently running roughshod over the best interests of America and its people.
This tide’s success is already a fait accompli with our economy, which is owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporate/investment class. Bankers have corralled most of the cash and shoot craps with it (some of which is FDIC-insured funds, i.e., our money) with assurances of our bailouts if they guess wrong. Populist politicians rightly protest that the game is rigged. It is; no fair-minded person could read and understand the ultra liberal regulatory and statutory frameworks and their lax enforcement under which Wall Street and its appurtenant handmaidens operate could conclude otherwise. When you hand the burglar the keys, you should not complain when your store is burgled. We made a mistake; we must now demand our keys back from Wall Street and corporate America. It’s our store; not theirs.
With the economy already in the clutches of the corporate/investment culture, all that is left is our political framework, and it is fast-going into the corporate grab bag as our legislators (always hungry for campaign contributions and other under-the-table goodies) vote one time after another to dismember our democracy and deliver America and its people to profit-driven corporations. Corporations are winning the fight for total control of the political process, but that war is not over just yet. There is still time for an incensed electorate to reverse the corporate tsunami and chase it back beyond the beach of the democracy it overran.
Any such attempt, of course, will be quickly labeled by corporate propagandists as “anti-business,” “socialistic” etc. They know better, but they lie (for their own perceived benefit). It is rather a reverse-tsunami designed to save America and its democracy (before it disappears entirely), and the time for us to start such a counter-storm is yesterday. We must never surrender our precious democracy to corrupt politicians and their greedy corporate backers; we must instead confront and defeat them (as we did in defense of our democracy against fascists in World War II, one, parenthetically, in which I participated).
So, plainly asked and answered, just what is democracy? It is the right to self-rule, or rule by, of and for the people, and thus if corporations rule and the people do not, democracy is dead – and if that happens, Orwell’s 1984 could look like a walk in the park. Who can know in such an instance what further demands our corporate masters would make of the surviving slaves (serfs, plebes, drones – take your pick)?
With the foregoing as background commentary and with the title to this essay as a guide, I ran across an article by Russell Mokhiber in an old edition of Harpers that discussed corporate naming rights. I instantly thought of the naming fiasco of the Houston baseball team’s playing field several years ago. The ball park’s new name was Enron Field. Corporate America was going to make sure that you (and sportscasters) saw and heard and used their name from anywhere you were seated, either at the park in Houston or watching on TV or listening to sportscasts before and after the game or reading the accounts of the games in the sports pages. Corporate America did not want to leave any stone unturned in getting its names before the public (see Lucas Oil Stadium, Fifth First Bank ball parks here and there et al.).
We have all seen corporate ads on sidewalks, taxis, the sides of busses and buildings. I have even seen corporate ads in public and private rest rooms (so much for privacy). No space is ignored in selling us beer, pop, cars etc. The problem with the naming rights of Enron Field was that the Enron Corporation pulled Ponzi schemes in the sale and distribution of electrical power amidst all kinds of fraud which on one occasion turned out the lights of California under pretense of shortage of power when there was no shortage. People in charge went to prison, their accounting firm was disbanded and put out of business for its part in the fraudulent scheme, and Enron’s CEO, “Ken,” committed suicide after his conviction.
Enron was on occasion the biggest contributor to the campaigns of George Bush, who returned the favor by “throwing out the first ball” at the game in Houston where Enron’s naming rights were first celebrated, and we have clips of where the then president came back after his pitch to physically embrace Enron’s CEO, “Ken,” the same guy who was convicted and who killed himself later. Bush was asked later if he knew “Ken,” and after a short pretense of seemingly trying to remember, answered: “Why, yes, I knew Mr._________.” It appears that the warmth of his post-pitch embrace in view of subsequent events following the celebration of the “naming” had cooled considerably as “Ken” became “Mr.________.” Politics (and outsized campaign contributions) do indeed make strange bedfellows, but Bush (in one of his few exercises in pragmatism) abandoned that bed and crawled back in bed with Amway (another of his largest campaign contributors from time to time).
The Enron experience did not end corporate America’s quest for “naming rights;” there is still intense competition for such almost perpetual rights among the makers of beer, computers, clothing etc. The name game has spilled over to college campuses, and I will discuss in Part II the name games as they apply to the business school at Cornell University and the observations of Frances Perkins, a member of that school’s faculty best known for her tenure as Secretary of Labor under FDR. Stay tuned. GERALD E

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